Peyton Manning may be able to sell more insurance than Aaron Rodgers. Life insurance.
Even if Peyton Manning is available this offseason the Seahawks shouldn’t call him. I understand the dots being connected. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Tarvaris Jackson is not one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
A very good argument could be made that the quarterback position is the Seahawks biggest weakness. In fact, since the day we posted our January poll of the month, and I voted for the quarterback position with the first vote, readers of our website have decided that in their opinion the quarterback position is the biggest offseason need for the Seahawks. Since I thought quarterback was the team’s biggest offseason need, I created our 2012 Seahawks QB candidate series.
After some reading and at the heed of suggestions, I added Matt Moore and Kirk Cousins to the series (hat tip to BW and JN, who may know who they are).
But as much Peyton Manning talk as there has been in this town, I can’t break Manning down into a 300 word scouting report. He does way to many things at an elite level to reduce him down to such a short post, and so many of those things he does at an elite level will have problems translating into the Seahawks offense, that such a small post, again, would not suffice.
That doesn’t even mention Manning’s health. We take a lot of liberty assuming that Manning will be healthy next year. He had vertebrae fused together. That’s not a torn ACL that is now weaker as a result of the injury. Depending on how bad the injury remains Manning runs the risk of moving for the last time before being wheeled off a football field in a stretcher. But in order to speculate on the possibility of what may happen if Manning came to Seattle, we must take the liberty that he’s healthy enough to play.
In order to analyze Manning we need to know what role the quarterback plays in the Seahawks offense.
The Seahawks run a pretty devout West Coast offense. They use mostly snaps form under center and three and five step drops. Most of their passes are early in progressions, and are reasonably close to the line of scrimmage. One of the quarterback’s most important duties is to sell play action (something Manning does better than maybe anyone) but also to roll out on a bootleg on several play action plays, as well as run plays.
The day Manning got drafted in the NFL he didn’t have the athleticism to maximize his abilities in a West Coast Offense. He possesses a ton of universal skills that can make him a decent quarterback in any offense, but the West Coast Offense requires additional athleticism. That may not be as true across the league as it used to be, as many WCOs have added more shotgun plays, and 3-5 receiver sets. A lot of the things traditionally done with the quarterback in the WCO have changed. However, even the Green Bay Packers, who run a pretty unconventional WCO, require a lot of athleticism from Aaron Rodgers. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a single quarterback who has had long-term success in a true WCO of any kind that didn’t enter the league with any kind of mention of words like “statuesque” or “immobile.” In fact, when you look at the most recent NFL quarterbacks to succeed in WCOs a majority of them were considered to be well-above-average athletically when they came into the NFL.
And in the running game, on a zone play the offensive line leaves the backside defensive lineman unblocked. The reason that the backside lineman doesn’t come down the line to make a play on the running back is that the quarterback usually rolls to the backside of the play, and because the Seahawks offense includes several play action plays where the quarterback performs the same action, the backside end has to stay home to honor the possibility that the quarterback will fake the handoff and find an easy pass waiting for him if the end over commits.
It’s not like Manning can’t learn the offense. It’s not a matter of his comprehension of the scheme. It’s not that Manning has never run a zone play. In fact, Manning ran a ton of plays in Indianapolis that were similar both in scheme and philosophy. We’ve also seen what has happened to the Indianapolis running game as Manning has gotten older, and has become less athletic than he already was.
Signing Peyton Manning creates a ton of problems with the team’s present composition. They’ve drafted linemen with the idea that they’d be a run-first team in a zone-blocking scheme. The line is young, and at three of those young guys ended up on injured reserve last year, so they’re even less experienced than their youth would indicate. They didn’t do a good job protecting Tarvaris Jackson early last year, which is no better personified than by the torn pectoral muscle that Jackson received early in the season. But Manning’s pectoral muscle is a lot less worrisome than his spinal cord.
Peyton Manning may be the best quarterback of my generation. And it sounds absolutely insane to say this, but due to his limitations athletically, advanced age, and questionable health, he probably isn’t enough of an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson to justify risking significant compensation to bring him to Seattle.
If a 23 year old Peyton Manning was in this year’s draft, and the Seahawks had one of the top two picks (because Andrew Luck is a deity), they’d be firing their offensive coordinator to find one who fit Manning better (if they hadn’t already because they’d sucked enough to be one of the two worst teams in football). But Peyton Manning isn’t in this year’s draft, rather, soon-to-be 36 year old Peyton Manning may be a free agent, and he shouldn’t be in a Seahawks uniform next year.
If Peyton Manning is healthy, do you want him in Seattle?